NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2021

The Wild sign Kirill Kaprizov, the Blues Jackets re-up Elvis Merzlikins and the Blues ink Robert Thomas. Check out the details of these signings plus the latest PTO contracts and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed winger Kirill Kaprizov to a five-year, $45 million contract on Tuesday night. The annual average value of the deal is $9 million. This comes on the eve of the Wild opening training camp today.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report adds Kaprizov is in North America, will travel to Minnesota today and will be in training camp tomorrow. The 24-year-old winger’s one NHL season has raised questions over whether he’s worth that type of contract.

The Wild, however, had no choice. Kaprizov may have a short body of work but he won the Calder Memorial Trophy last season, becoming the most exciting offensive star they’ve had since Marian Gaborik was in his heyday 15 years ago. Cap Friendly indicates they’re also facing a short-term cap crunch over the next three seasons. They needed certainty over how much he’ll cost them per season, especially when the salary cap begins rising again.

Kaprizov now faces the pressure of justifying that hefty raise and building on his promising NHL debut. If he does, the Wild should remain a legitimate playoff contender despite their upcoming salary-cap issues. If not, things could get ugly very quickly for him and for general manager Bill Guerin.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to a five-year, $27 million contract extension. The annual average value is $5.4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing cements Merzlikins as the Blue Jackets’ starting goaltender. It also means Joonas Korpisalo could depart next summer as an unrestricted free agent unless he’s moved before the March trade deadline if the Jackets are out of playoff contention.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues inked center Robert Thomas to a two-year, $5.6 million contract with an annual average value of $2.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s the same deal teammate Jordan Kyrou recently signed but there was speculation Thomas would get less than that because of his struggles last season. The signing pushes the Blues above the cap by around $1.3 million but it’s expected they’ll offset that by placing sidelined forward Oskar Sundqvist (knee injury) and his $2.75 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve to start the season.

The Blues must become cap compliant when Sundqvist returns to action. That could come about via demoting or trading a lower-salaried player or perhaps they’ll find a trade partner for Vladimir Tarasenko by then.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings signed Bobby Ryan to a professional tryout offer. The 34-year-old winger played for the Wings last season.

TSN: Alexander Galchenyuk signed a PTO with the Arizona Coyotes. The 27-year-old forward last played for the Coyotes in 2018-19.

NHL.COM’s Brian Compton tweets the New York Islanders signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a PTO, inked goaltender Cory Schneider to a two-way contract and signed Kieffer Bellows and Michael Dal Colle.

Freelancer Ken Campbell reports Edmonton Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith is still quarantining after receiving his second COVID-19 vaccination. He’s expected to miss the first week of training camp.

TSN: The Philadelphia Flyers announced center Kevin Hayes underwent abdominal surgery and will be sidelined four to six weeks and defenseman Samuel Morin will be out six to eight weeks recovering from knee surgery. Forward Wade Allison is out indefinitely with a right ankle sprain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll feel Hayes’ absence for the opening weeks of this season. His spot as second-line center could be filled by Morgan Frost.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have barred forward Zac Rinaldo from attending training camp due to his unvaccinated status. He’s on a one-year, two-way contract and has been vocal in his stance against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. He’ll instead attend the training camp of their AHL affiliate in Cleveland later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rinaldo can forget about getting called up by the Jackets. The club is taking a firm stance on ensuring all its players are fully vaccinated, operating under the NHL’s COVID protocols for this season.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Motte remains sidelined by an undisclosed injury suffered on April 29 in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’ll miss the start of training camp and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

SPORTSNET: After 42 years in broadcasting, Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Jim Hughson has retired. He called his first game on radio in 1979 and become the main play-by-play for the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and national broadcasts on HniC.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hughson and his family for a happy retirement.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 31, 2021

Check out the latest on Jonathan Toews, Connor McDavid, Matthew Tkachuk, Nikolaj Ehlers and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: in an exclusive interview with Mark Lazerus, Jonathan Toews acknowledged he’s probably a COVID “long hauler” given the tell-tale signs of a bout with the coronavirus in February 2020 before the pandemic became widespread. Combined with the cumulative effect of his long NHL career, it led to the symptoms of a mysterious illness that cost him a year, including the entirety of the 2020-21 season.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

Toews’ doctors initially believed his condition was due to chronic immune response syndrome. Feeling rejuvenated, he intends on returning to action this season. He also said he doesn’t want his story to overshadow the lawsuits by two former players against the Blackhawks alleging the club’s inaction to address their allegations of sexual assault by the team’s former video coach a decade ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews might not be the only NHL player who contracted COVID-19 well before the league shut down the remainder of the regular season in March 2020. Many of them may have been asymptomatic.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid’s focus this season is on becoming a more complete player. He believes the key to helping his club go deeper in the playoffs is improving his play without the puck and in his own zone.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Working on the defensive aspects of his game may help McDavid improve his all-around game, but he still needs a good supporting cast for his Oilers to become a serious Stanley Cup contender. While the roster has improved they still have a ways to go no matter how much their captain’s game evolves.

THE SCORE: Matthew Tkachuk is entering 2021-22 determined to help the Calgary Flames stage a long postseason run. The Flames reached the playoffs in three of his five seasons in Calgary but failed to advance beyond the first round.

NBC BOSTON: An emotional funeral and procession were held on Monday for former Bruin Jimmy Hayes in his hometown of Dorchester, Massachusetts yesterday. Hayes died suddenly last week at age 31. His brother, Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes, recalled Jimmy bringing a cancer-stricken youngster to the Bruins locker room, giving the child one of his best memories before he succumbed to the disease.

NHL.COM: Denmark defeated Norway 2-0 to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics thanks to an insurance goal by Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons collected an assist to help Latvia qualify for the Beijing Games in a 2-1 win over France in Group E qualification action on Sunday.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators re-signed winger Eeli Tolvanen to a three-year, $4.35 million contract.

Former NHLer Matt Calvert has joined the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings as a development coach. Injuries forced Calvert to announce his retirement earlier this year after 11 seasons.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed Dylan Guenther to a three-year entry-level contract. He was the ninth overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

PHILLY.COM:The Philadelphia Flyers will name a new inductee into their Hall of Fame for the first time in five years.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2021

More legal trouble for Evander Kane, Kevin Hayes pays tribute to his late brother Jimmy, more Canadian teams require proof of vaccination to attend games, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane faces more legal troubles. Daniel Kaplan reports a federal bankruptcy judge has approved for discovery in a lawsuit filed against Kane alleging he reneged on a promise to pay at least $2 million for an abortion.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaplan also pointed out Kane filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, endured a very public, messy, ongoing divorce from his wife and learned several of his teammates want him traded. He’s also the subject of an ongoing investigation by the league regarding allegations made by his estranged wife that he bet on NHL games.

SPORTSNET: Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes made a heartfelt tribute on Instagram to his brother Jimmy, who died suddenly on Monday. He said he lost his best friend, crediting his older brother with paving the way for his NHL career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Hayes family. Tributes poured in following Jimmy’s passing from around the hockey world.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames are the latest teams to require fans to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to attend their games this season. The Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs announced similar rules earlier this month. The Edmonton Oilers are expected to follow suit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Senators are also expected to implement similar rules and I daresay the Montreal Canadiens will do the same.

THE PROVINCE: Daniel Sedin is enjoying the active role he and brother Henrik have taken in management decisions this offseason with the Vancouver Canucks. The twins were hired as senior advisors to general manager Jim Benning earlier this year. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens announced France Margaret Belanger has been named president (sports and entertainment) of Groupe CH. She becomes the first woman to serve on the Canadiens executive committee in its 104-year history. She also serves, alongside team owner Geoff Molson, as an alternate governor for the team.

MLIVE.COM: Former Detroit Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula is returning to Europe after 16 NHL seasons. He signed a one-year contract with Geneve-Servette of the Swiss Hockey League.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers announced Gord Murphy and Mike Kelly will serve as assistant coaches under head coach Gerard Gallant. Murphy is being promoted from the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack. Steve Smith joins the Wolfpack as an assistant.

WINDSOR SPITFIRES: Announced former NHL player Marc Savard as their new head coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2021

The preseason schedule is released plus the latest on  Jaden Schwartz, David Krejci, Henrik Lundqvist and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The 2021-22 preseason schedule was released on Monday. It begins on Saturday, Sept. 25 as the Montreal Canadiens travel to Toronto to meet the Maple Leafs for an afternoon contest. The Minnesota Wild will face off against the St. Louis Blues in an evening contest.

Seattle Kraken winger Jaden Schwartz (NHL Images).

The following day features the Seattle Kraken hosting the Vancouver Canucks at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. The schedule concludes with 11 games on Saturday, Oct. 9.

THE ATHLETIC: Jaden Schwartz revealed he almost didn’t play with the St. Louis Blues last season following the sudden death of his father. It was the relationships within the organization and the memory of his dad that convinced him to play. Now signed with the Seattle Kraken, he’s looking forward to a new chapter in his life and career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schwartz was hampered by an oblique injury last season but the loss of his father also affected his performance. He’ll be expected to play a leadership role with the Kraken in their upcoming inaugural campaign.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins center David Krejci was formally introduced yesterday as the latest member of the Czech Republic club HC Olomouc. While the Bruins have left the door open for Krejci to return later this season, the 35-year-old center appears intent on playing back home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Krejci plays one game in the Czech Republic he’d have to clear waivers to return to the Bruins or any other NHL club this season.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist is looking forward to having his No. 30 raised to the rafters of Madison Square Garden by the New York Rangers at some point in the coming season. He played 15 seasons with the Blueshirts, winning a franchise-record 459 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This report came out before Sunday’s news of the passing of Rangers legend Rob Gilbert. Lundqvist tweeted out his condolences on Monday.

TSN: Former NHL forward Jimmy Hayes died Monday at age 31. The older brother of Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes, Jimmy spent seven seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils from 2011-12 to 2017-18, totaling 54 goals and 109 points in 334 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Hayes’ family, friends and former teammates.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins and his wife Aleksandra recently welcomed son Knox Matiss Merzlikins into their family. His middle name honors the memory of Merzlkins’ friend and teammate Matiss Kivlenieks, who died last month during a fireworks incident.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2021

The Avalanche take a 2-0 series lead over the Golden Knights, the Canadiens beat the Jets in their second-round series opener, the Sabres win the draft lottery, the Ted Lindsay Award finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Mikko Rantanen’s overtime power-play goal lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights and a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Brandon Saad and Tyson Jost also scored for Colorado while Alec Martinez and Reilly Smith replied for Vegas. Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer made 39 saves. Marc-Andre Fleury returned to the Golden Knights’ net after being the backup in Game 1.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas coach Peter DeBoer wasn’t happy with the officiating on the slashing call on Rielly Smith that led to Rantanen’s PP goal. “Just a soft call”, he said, going on to accuse the Avalanche players of embellishment throughout the game.

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Eric Staal had a goal and an assist while Carey Price made 27 saves for the win. Their victory, however, was overshadowed by a dangerous hit by Jets center Mark Scheifele on Habs center Jake Evans as the latter was scoring an empty net. Evans was stretchered from the ice while Scheifele received a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was out of character for Scheifele, who has no history of supplemental discipline. He let his emotions get away with him and could face a suspension. Evans, meanwhile, was evaluated by the Canadiens’ medical staff. John Shannon reported he was back at the team hotel following the game, where he was described as doing fine, alert but shaken.

It should be noted that Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers protected the prone Evans during the ensuing scrum. He also called for additional medical attention for the fallen Hab. “In a situation like that, you don’t want anyone falling on top of him,” said Ehlers. “I was just trying to keep everyone away.”

Winnipeg center Paul Stastny missed this game with an undisclosed injury. Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo left the game early in the first period with a lower-body injury.

The Buffalo Sabres won the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery yesterday. The expansion Seattle Kraken won the second-overall pick while the Anaheim Ducks will select third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could select University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power. He’s listed as this year’s top prospect by NHL Central Scouting.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid are the finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan defended his team’s top-four players during the club’s end-of-season press conference. He did, however, acknowledge the club lacked a “killer instinct” that must be addressed.

SPORTSNET: Leafs captain John Tavares said he’s doing “really well” in his recovery from the traumatic head injury suffered during Game 1 against the Canadiens. Tavares missed the rest of the series with a concussion and a knee injury. He said he has no memory of the incident and doesn’t intend to watch the replay.

TSN: Leafs winger Mitch Marner denied a report that he refused to play a goal-line role on the club’s power play. “It’s a complete lie,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect Marner, Tavares, Matthews or William Nylander to be traded this summer if Shanahan’s comments are anything to go by. However, that hasn’t stopped the speculation among the Toronto media. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck’s status for Game 3 tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning remains uncertain. He was still being evaluated yesterday following his ankle-to-ankle collision with teammate Warren Foegele in Game 2.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Craig Smith could return to the lineup for Game 3 tonight against the New York Islanders. He missed Game 2 with a lower-body injury suffered during the previous game.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said he’d be comfortable returning with the same group of players next season. He defended beleaguered starting goaltender Tristan Jarry, lauded the coaching staff and expects core players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang to return next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall and president of hockey ops Brian Burke intend to bring some size and toughness to the line next season. There will be some changes but those will likely involve their secondary players. They could also acquire an experienced backup as a mentor for Jarry.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Kevin Hayes underwent successful sports hernia surgery last week. His expected recovery period is five weeks.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 23, 2021

Golden Knights and Lightning take commanding series’ leads while Leafs and Islanders get big wins to tie their respective series. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury turned in a 35-save shutout as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Minnesota Wild 4-0 to take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven opening-round series. Fleury moved into a tie with Curtis Joseph for third place among the all-time playoff shutouts leaders with 16. Nicolas Roy scored twice and Mark Stone tallied a shorthanded goal. The Golden Knights can wrap things up in Game 5 on Monday in Vegas.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An apparent game-tying goal by the Wild’s Joel Eriksson Ek was overturned on a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference. Eriksson Ek also had a goal overturned in Game 3 as offside on a coach’s challenge.

The Tampa Bay Lightning took a 3-1 lead in their series with a 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn each collected four points while Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 41 shots. Panthers’ netminder Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled after giving up five goals on 19 shots. Game 5 goes Monday in Sunrise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the worst-officiated game of these playoffs thus far. The Athletic’s Joe Smith pointed out this game took an ugly turn after Kucherov left the game with a leg injury from a slash by Panthers’ winger Anthony Duclair and teammate Mikhail Sergachev was shaken up following a blindside hit by Patric Hornqvist.

Smith also noted the game finished with 26 penalties and five misconducts, many of which stemmed from a brawl late in the third period. Lightning coach Jon Cooper struggled to keep his emotions in check talking about the officiating during the postgame press conference. No word following this game over the conditions of Kucherov and Sergachev.

Auston Matthews had a goal and two assists as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 to even their first-round series at a game apiece. William Nylander and Mitch Marner each had two points while Jack Campbell made 22 saves for his first-ever NHL playoff win. Jesperi Kotkaniemi replied for the Canadiens. The series shifts to Montreal for Game 3 on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The first period was evenly matched but Toronto blew it open in the second as the Canadiens spent most of that frame on the penalty kill. The Leafs adjusted well to the Habs’ physical play while bringing their speed and offensive depth to bear.

The New York Islanders squared their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins at two games apiece with a 4-1 victory. Ilya Sorokin got the nod as the Islanders’ starting goalie over struggling Semyon Varlamov and turned aside 29 shots for the win. Isles winger Oliver Wahlstrom had a goal and an assist. The series returns to Pittsburgh on Monday for Game 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are doing a fine job shutting down the Penguins’ top line. Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust each have just one point in this series. Meanwhile, a banged-up Evgeni Malkin has two assists in as many games but was also held off the score sheet in Game 4.

HEADLINES

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs general manager said team captain John Tavares suffered no structural damage to his head, face, neck or spine after being accidentally struck by the knee of Canadiens winger Corey Perry in Game 1. However, he has a concussion and also a sprained knee. He’ll be sidelined for at least two weeks.

TSN: Washington Capitals winger Anthony Mantha was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for goaltender interference against Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask during Game 4 of their first-round series.

The league also fined Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal $5,000.00 for a dangerous trip on Nashville Predators winger Luke Kunin during Game 3 of their first-round series.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues defensemen Justin Faulk and Robert Bortuzzo remain doubtful for Game 4 today against the Colorado Avalanche. Blueliner Vince Dunn’s status is also uncertain.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller will miss Game 5 today against the Washington Capitals. He was sidelined in Game 4 by a high hit to the head by Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers forward Kevin Hayes will reportedly undergo sports hernia surgery next week in Philadelphia. His recovery time is expected to be six weeks.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars promoted Rich Peverley to Director of Player Personnel. He’s served as their Player Development Coordinator for six years.